MANC OF THE MONTH: Chara Kontopoulou

Explosions, layers, colour, a shiny reflective surface that changes dependent on how the viewer moves, sounds intriguing right? This months artist is Chara Kontopoulou, an artist who brings a lot of extra ‘something’ to her work, an array of marks and colours trapped in resin, sitting as a harmonious culmination of the organic form in all its chaos and all its beauty alike.

Read on to find out more about the artwork and the artist!

Cotton On MCR: Introduce yourself and your work to the readers.

Chara Kontopoulou: ‘My name is Chara Kontopoulou and I am a visual artist. I was born in Cyprus and I live and work in Manchester for the last 3 years. I studied Visual and Applied Arts at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and I received my MA of Arts Management, Policy and Practice from the University of Manchester.’

‘My work is based on abstract art – I use layers of resin and acrylic paint, with the aim to create organic shapes, on large scale canvases. The multiple layers of resin and the small painted marks, have the tendency to create an actual depth or the illusion of a 3D painting. The outcome is a shiny and reflective surface, consisted by countless and delicate strokes. When the viewer changes their position, the overall image changes respectively. Although the whole process requires disciplined and exploratory design, the result is an overall explosion, where balance and chaos co-exist in an aesthetical harmony.’

CO: What are the main themes of your work, why and what influenced you?

CK: ‘I have noticed that people are being bombarded by the multiple information they receive in their real and digital life (social media). I believe this daily exposure has made the recipient normalise the superficial consumption of information and respond passively. Through my work, I invite the viewer to turn their passive vision into an active one, and become a part of the viewing experience. On my artwork, different reflections of the viewer and the space become apparent, due to the nature of the material (resin), that gives a reflective outcome, like a mirror.’ 

‘The viewer is invited to move around the painting, in order to form a comprehensive idea of the whole artwork. Aesthetically, I am influenced by nature’s organic forms and I try to reproduce them by using the simplest drawing/painting shape, like a straight line. Through this approach, I want to give the sense of an organic whole, which has its own depth and space.’

CO: Your work is mainly made out of small layered marks, how did you find this to be your style?

CK: ‘I think it was the result of many years of practice. I am trying to create large forms with depth, consisted by other smaller forms. I am also fascinated by the fact that the creation of the “whole” depends on the creation of the “part”. One small mark has no power, but what if you make thousands of them? Together they become so powerful, they can seduce you.’

CO: Since your work is layered, and full of many strokes, when do you know you’re finished, or whether or not you’ve overworked your piece? 

CK: ‘I believe that painting is a never-ending process. You can always add a small detail which can change the whole artwork and make it completely different. On the opposite, you can remove something and improve your work. What I find more interesting and I believe many artists do, is when I experiment without the stress of finishing a painting because of a deadline. I think that’s where the magic happens.’ 

CO: Your palette is quite ranged, you do some with a few colours/shades, and other with a much wider range, why is this?

CK: ‘It’s not something that I was trying to achieve, it just came out naturally. When I’m creating an artwork, I always think of the next one. I believe that inspiration comes when you are working and experimenting.’

CO: It says on your website that your work becomes illusion to 3D, would you ever actually make it 3D? 

CK: ‘Actually, that was my goal when I’ve started creating this kind of work – to make it 3D. I left that idea for now, because I found a formula of working and the result keeps me satisfied. On the contrary, the fact that I am experimenting with new materials gives me the possibility to get a 3-dimensional approach at some point.’

CO: What is your favourite piece you’ve made and why?

CK: ‘My favourite piece is the “Black Hole”. I’ve made it in 2017 and it’s still my favourite one. It’s a 150 x 150 cm painting and it’s consisted by small layered marks all in black colour. I find it unique because when you look at it from distance, it looks like a mirror because of its dark colour. I believe this piece is unique and plays a fundamental role in my artistic practice, because it embodies all the conceptual research of my work in a simple and clear way. It also opens up the possibility of experimenting in monochromatic paintings.’

CO: If you could have dinner with three celebrities dead or alive, who and why?

CK: ‘I have so many people in my mind that I would love to meet, but If I have to choose, I would say Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo and Albert Einstein. They were all pioneers and I find all of them geniuses. They all succeeded and nothing would stop them. Their work really inspires me and also their strength, curiosity and will for living.’

CO: What’s your ideal Sunday? 

CK: ‘Ideally, I like to spend my Sundays, out of the city and visit places where I’ll be able to tune with nature. This allows me to reflect upon my work, research and encounter new experiences that might infiltrate my work later.’

CO: What’s your favourite thing about Manchester? 

CK: ‘What I love most in Manchester is its diversity. Manchester is a multicultural city, I met so many people from different countries and everyone has a different story to tell. Also, it’s a city that promotes diversity and equality everywhere – you feel part of the city no matter of colour, race, or religion. I took part at the Manchester Open exhibition at HOME called “Everyone is an artist”, and I felt really proud to be part of such a diverse exhibition with so many different and talented artists.’

CO: And lastly, if you could live in any art work, what would it be and why?

CK: ‘If I had to choose one artwork to live in, I would say “The Starry Night” of Van Gogh, without a second thought. Firstly, because it’s Van Gogh! I consider his paintings aesthetically unique. The “Starry Night” is a stunning painting, full of colours and mystery.’ 

To check out some more of Chara’s work, here’s her Instagram @chara_kontopoulou_artist, happy scrolling!

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